As the board game has died and the video gaming world has risen, the party game has taken on a new meaning. Suitable for all manner of ages, it is these virtual offerings which come alive at certain times of the year – think Christmas and New Year especially – to throw some life into the usually stale, slightly awkward gatherings.
The vast majority of these quizzing party titles will appeal to all, allowing the kids to get involved, giving your grandparents the opportunity to use their worldly knowledge and letting a bunch of mates getting ready for a night on the town bond like never before.
Now though, Snap Finger Click have rocked up with another offering to follow their rather decent ‘It’s Quiz Time’ – the intriguingly named Awkward. But is it actually awkward, or is it really a rather decent reason to get a group of likeminded people together?
Well, if truth be told, it’s a bit of both really, because if you’re looking for a new game to bring the family together, Awkward most definitely does as the name suggests. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this is one game that is highly unsuitable for a family birthday. But for a group of mates on the beers and looking for a laugh? It does a reasonably decent job, at least for 5 minutes.
Awkward is apparently based on a legendary card game that was banned globally at the end of the 1800s, mainly due to a severe increase in bar fights, divorces and family feuds. Personally though – and for as good a tale as that is – I’m more worried about how things play out now, in a time of moral dilemmas, political correctness and straight talking agendas – three things that this card ‘game’ plays on.
Selling itself on the back of being the ultimate test of how well friends, family and couples know each other, with the help of a single game controller you will get to pick your own answer to a series of increasingly uncomfortable questions, before your playing partners, teammates or the global public try to guess your choice. You’ll also be shown how you compare to the rest of the world, and then, after ten or so questions, will be rated via an old-school compatibility meter to your playing partners, before being thrown back to the main menu. Of course, should you wish to play again, checking out more of the 5000 odd questions that have been included in the database, then that option is there, but after just a few rounds you’ll probably have had enough of the boring questions and unskippable screens that get thrown your way. And sorry if that doesn’t make Awkward sound particularly enticing, but the truth of the matter is that it isn’t.
You see, in my eyes a party game has to be humorous, but in Awkward things never get funny, aside from a slight smirk being raised the first time you are asked what your sexual preference is. There is also no real end goal; it’s just you and some others pressing the X or B button in order to choose between two answers to questions that you have never wanted to be asked, before leaving you wondering if someone else is going to understand your logic. Even with 5000 questions included, Awkward gets stale real quick with very few causing too much in terms of debate.
There is a decent range and variety within those questions though and initial requests in any round will come from the likes of ‘Can you do an impression of Mickey Mouse? Yes or No’ and ‘Which fictional character would you rather be? Sherlock Holmes or Mr Spock’. It doesn’t take long before Snap Finger Click try to push the boundaries though and you’ll quickly be tested with ‘Who would you rather save from death? An 18-year old or a 1-year old’, before they start to go all out and drop in the odd nod to the adult scene, asking who you think gets more action in the bedroom – you or your dad. And whilst the former type of questions are pretty damn boring, the latter ones are just a little bit, well, needy, seeing Awkward come across as a game that is trying too hard to be outrageous. It’s not for me to say whether that is a good or bad thing, but there is a moral line that runs throughout this world and Awkward seemingly steps over it for no real reason. It could have been all good though, and a range of comical questions would most definitely have been preferred to the mundaneness that is instead included – if only because they would have raised more of a conversation.
It’s strange also that before any game we get to input a few little details about ourselves – name, sexual preference and how well we know the type of people we are playing the game with. And whilst that is all well and good, seemingly restricting the really hardcore questions when we are playing with anyone not on the romantic scale, it doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of difference whether those playing against each other know them as strictly friends, as lovers, or as part of a family circle. I would have liked to see Snap Finger Click go further with these options, at least allowing the host to completely remove any properly mature, X-rated content altogether.
I’ll give the developers the benefit of the doubt in one area though and that is the fact numerous game modes have been put in place, with a solo player given the chance to compare themselves to the rest of the world, and multiple gamers able to team up in a variety of ways – both cooperatively and competitively. It is probably in the random match up mode that Awkward comes across as the most intriguing though, particularly if you have a mixed group of people getting together. Other than that, playing with a relationship partner is alright, but the strange collection of questions usually see more of a ‘huh, okay, if you say so’ response, than anything which will set the relationship on fire. But again, who wants to play a ‘game’ that would see any relationship really strained.
There is also the chance to stream your questions and answers to the world via Mixer, Twitch or YouTube, but unless you have a ton of followers on either channel, will struggle to find much joy using the built in game options. In fact, the basic streaming via Mixer on Xbox One is a whole world better than that included in-game, making it pretty much a non-event that will hardly be used by many.
In the most simple of terms, Awkward basically hosts a series of questions and answers without doing much else, and so as you may expect from a simple multiple choice experience, neither the visuals on offer, nor the basic sounds are meant to be – or need to be – at the forefront of the experience. That’s a good thing too as not once will you manage to sit back and think ‘oh, that looks/sounds good’.
Awkward is not a game you can play with the kids around, it is not a game you will want to switch on when the grandparents are in the room, and I’d hesitate to say you probably won’t want to play it with any other member of your family either. In fact, the only people you will ever feel comfortable playing it with is a bunch of mates, all of who have had a drink or two. But then, maybe that awkwardness is the actual point of Awkward.
How anyone would find that fun though is beyond me.